M A I N   N E W S

Phukan report rejected
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 13
The UPA government today displayed its determination to go after former Defence Minister George Fernandes by rejecting the findings of the Phukan Commission report which probed the Tehelka expose into fictitious defence deals.

Terming the report that says no irregularity was committed by Mr Fernandes, as “incomplete,” the government said the findings were “bereft” of reasons and that the panel had not gone into the allegations of corruption. The government said the commission had gone into just two of the four terms and conditions.

The term “B” of the commission specifically included the question of illicit gains by persons in public office, individuals and any other organisation. “However, the part of the report which was submitted to the then Prime Minister on February 4, 2004, did not cover this aspect at all,” the government said in the statement which accompanied the report.

Laying the report in the two Houses of Parliament, the government said it was not bound to table the conclusion as it was “part report” of the commission but it was doing so on the direction of Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.

However, the Phukan Commission, giving a clean chit to Mr Fernandes, said after examining the records of each of the past transactions and the evidences both oral and documentary, it had found that there was no illegality or irregularity in the 15 defence transactions which had been referred to the commission.

“Therefore, the commission is of the opinion that his (George Fernandes) reputation, as Defence Minister, in respect of the past transactions was not in any way prejudicially affected and hence no recommendation is called for against him in respect of the above transactions,” the commission said in the report.

The commission was constituted after the Tehelka expose and was to investigate 15 major  defence deals, including the acquisition of Russian Sukhoi warplanes, T-90s tanks and the Barak missile system.

Incidentally, Justice Phukan was in the face of a controversy recently for travelling in an IAF VIP plane while probing the defence deals. The permission was alleged to have been given by Mr Fernandes.

The government while pointing out that the report contained the prologue and conclusions arrived at even before the completion of the inquiry, said: “Upon perusing the proceedings before the Justice Phukan Commission, it is clear that Justice Phukan in arriving at his conclusions has not appropriately dealt with the submissions of the commission’s counsel, submitted in writing with reference to almost all 15 transactions, that cases of wrongdoing with reference to most of the transactions were made out without absolving any particular individual”.

The government further said even the conclusions arrived at by Justice Phukan were bereft of reasoning. The government did not consider this a satisfactory way of dealing with such serious issues.

The note said the government had, therefore, decided to entrust the entire inquiry on the 15 transactions to the CBI for a thorough investigation. Action would be taken after the investigations.

“The terms relating to the following of the prescribed procedure in these transactions were inextricably interlinked with other terms, including those relating to corruption charges”, the note said. It said even in the matter of procedure the commission found a number of irregularities and made recommendations for further inquiry in 13 out of 15 transactions which it had examined.

“If the commission has accepted that violation of procedure did take place, it was incumbent upon it to complete the investigation as per the term of reference to establish a nexus,” it said.

“Any finding on other issues without investigation into the main charge will necessarily be an incomplete one and cannot be treated as a final conclusion of the Commission even on such issues,” it said.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |